From Left to Write asks reviewers to connect the book of the month with their personal experiences. Accordingly, this is not a traditional book review, but rather, my response to this month’s selection. Find out more here.
I received an advance copy of Happier At Home for free, but I was not compensated in any way for my review. My comments are my own. This book is available for purchase here.
The Paradoxes of Happiness
- I feel happy when I'm productive but I'm not productive if I'm not happy
- I need adequate rest but too much rest makes me restless
- If I want to stop being grumpy, it helps to say out loud, "I'm grumpy" instead of trying to ignore how I'm feeling
- I feel guilty when I treat myself to unnecessary items or experiences, but deprived if I never let myself have something "just because"
- Too many possessions in my house makes me feel overwhelmed, but the right kinds of things make me feel at home
To illustrate these, I'll focus on three specific factors I've identified that influence my happiness at home:
Over the year and a half we have been in this house, my office has organically grown to reflect my favorite things: wind chimes, photographs, scented candles, and color. My husband is terrifically kind to me and planted a flowerbox outside my office window stocked with heliotrope and lily of the valley, so that all summer long I was able to work with my window open and let the good smells float in.
I started painting landscapes last May, and while they are the work of an amateur, I paint that what makes me happy to look at and then place them all over my office.
But I am a ultimately a neat-freak, and make a conscious effort to keep the floors and desktop clean and clutter-free.
I cringe at my previous attitude, now that we have Mercury the Dog, George the Cat, and Gloria the Kitten.
Mercury is my walking buddy. Together we explore the great Pacific Northwest, while I try to restrain him from eating duck poop and he protects me from the neighborhood's dangers like cable repairmen and little old ladies out for a morning stroll.
However, if you are cooking, putting away groceries, or cleaning, he needs to be there, involved in the process. He is VERY INTERESTED in people doing things. He is also a dedicated mother to Gloria.
That's because it was released in 2006. Guess when I retired mine? Last year.
I was afraid of smartphones because I was quite confident that the phone was, in fact, capable of outsmarting me.
But then the practicality of having a phone where I can access my email and read files, along with Instragramming photos of my cats, won out and my husband and I made the switch.
We promised we would not become those people who stare at our phones when the other person is in the same room, trying to have a conversation. And for the most part, we didn't.
But when I was alone I found my fingers twitching to refresh my email, look at friend's pictures, read, read, read anything and everything online.
It wasn't making me very happy though. I'd sit down in the evening to relax with a book, but would never get to reading because I was too busy messing around with my phone.
Checking my email was a huge source of anxiety, because if anything work-related was in my inbox, whether it was 6 am or 11 pm, I felt immediately compelled to immediately respond and resume working.
It took a little while for me to understand that we do not HAVE TO keep our phones on us at all times. I am not REQUIRED by some moral or legal code to respond to somebody's text immediately, or heck, even answer the telephone if it's family time in our house.
Now I quite deliberately keep my phone in another room when I am trying to write something (like right now). If I am intent on reading, I do not bring my phone over with my book. And if my husband and I are hanging out, watching TV or having dinner, my phone is banished. He does the same for me, and I appreciate that the relatively little amount of time we have together each day is enhanced by the absence of technology and its associated distractions.
And, finally, my happy is your not happy. And that's ok.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to sign off and go be happy in my home with the animals and husband.